SULU SEA - A team of U.S. Navy salvage experts have been meticulously scouring the damaged USS Guardian (MCM 5), safely transferring anything deemed potentially harmful to prepare the grounded ship to be removed from Tubbataha Reef.

The Navy has safely transferred approximately 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel; 671 gallons of lubricating oil; dry food stores; paints and solvents contained in storage lockers; and the personal effects left behind by the crew from the ship.

“We continue to place extra scrutiny on removing everything we can to mitigate possible damage to the marine environment,” said Rear Adm. Tom Carney, the on-scene commander of the salvage operation.

Heavy lift floating cranes are en route to the site in the Sulu Sea about 80 miles east-southeast of Palawan Island where the mine countermeasures ship ran aground in the early morning hours of Jan. 17 during a transit to Indonesia. Naval architecture experts continue to develop a salvage plan that will involve using the cranes to safely extract the ship while mitigating damage to the reef.

For the latest updates, visit the U.S. 7th Fleet website.